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Over 150,000 Tesla vehicles are being recalled for failing in-dash displays

The NHTSA had over 16,000 complaints of touchscreen failures.

tesla sentry mode and dog mode
Image: Tesla

Tesla might have hit records in Q4 of 2020, with over 180,000 vehicles delivered, but it’s about to have nearly that many vehicles traveling in the other direction, to fix a huge safety issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking Tesla to recall a total of 158,000 vehicles, over in-dash display failures that could have disastrous consequences.

The affected Tesla vehicles are Model S cars built from 2012 to 2018, and Model X cars built from 2016 to 2018. The NHTSA started investigating reports of the touchscreen in the dash in Tesla vehicles back in June of 2020 and has come to the conclusion that the faulty touchscreens need replacing in every vehicle fitted with one.

The letter sent to Tesla to inform them of the need for the recall says that the root cause of the touchscreens dying is that the flash memory in Tesla’s media control unit can stop working prematurely. That’s the same problem that was reported in November, where Tesla cheaped out on the flash memory used, and then compounded the issue by writing system logs to it, literally wearing the memory out from overuse.

The NHTSA had over 16,000 complaints of touchscreen failure due to this issue. The agency does acknowledge that Tesla has made efforts to mitigate the issue, but doesn’t believe that mitigations are enough. Citing prior correspondence, the agency also says that Tesla knows that all of the touchscreen units will fail eventually, with a peak in 2022 declining until 2028 when all are estimated to have failed.

Tesla now has to either recall all affected vehicles to replace the media control units or explain to the agency why it disagrees. The Model 3 seems not to be affected at all, so don’t worry if you’re a Model 3 owner, your touchscreen is probably fine.

Have any thoughts on this? Surprised that this is happening to Tesla vehicles? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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